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80,000 school-starting kids to receive free hi-vis vests this year


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A total of 80,000 children are set to receive free hi-visibility vests as they start their first year in school this year.

The Road Safety Authority will be distributing the hi-vis clothing to the new pupils who are among the most vulnerable road users.

"It is really important to get the road safety message through to the must vulnerable of our road users and their parents," Chief Executive Officer of the RSA Moyagh Murdock told RTÉ Radio One's Morning Ireland.

She said it was the seventh year of the campaign which the RSA runs in conjunction with ESB Networks.

"Many of those children will be walking to school with their parents for the first time and some may be going on their bicycles. We're really trying to get the message out to to parents, teachers and road users to watch out for and be aware of these new road users," Ms Murdock added.

She said the RSA wants to help these children get comfortable wearing the vests.

"We want children to get used to them and be very comfortable wearing them whether they are going to school or just going for a walk with their friends," she said.

She said traffic will increase significantly and evenings will get darker meaning it can be difficult to spot children on the road.

She also encouraged schools to register to receive hi-vis material for older classes as well.

Ms Murdock said the RSA distributes over a million hi-vis vests a year.

"Every year we give out over a million hi-vis vests. Events like the Ploughing Championships is a big draw for Transition Year students as well. We're getting the message out there that you really are seen when you have the little vest on," she said.

Separately, Ms Murdock said there has been a 100pc increase in cyclists killed on or roads.

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"Sadly we have seen a big increase on last year's figures so far this year," she said.

A total of 10 cyclists have been killed on our roads so far this year.

Ms Murdock said that cycling has become much more popular but more had to be done to keep cyclists safe.

"Cycling has got much more popular and we are delighted to see that. It's a healthy activity. We need to make sure people feel safe and we have a number of measures there. We want to do as much as possible for cyclists," she said.

She called for a physical barrier to be established between cyclists and other traffic.

"If we could have a physical barrier between the vehicle traffic and cyclists that would be ideal," Ms Murdock added.

She said Dublin City has a good record for vulnerable road users and some of the measures being implemented would help protect them further.

"Certainly, some measures being put in place by Dublin City will help - especially the lowering of speed limits in many of the routes around the city," she added.

"There is still more to be done without a doubt. More protections are required for cyclists," she said.

Ms Murdock also emphasised that cyclists share a responsibility on the roads.

"It is important to mention that cyclists have a responsibility to adhere to the rules of the road and to respect traffic signals and other vulnerable users such as pedestrians out in the city as well.

"We really want everybody to realise it is a shared space and together everybody will be safer if we respect each other's space," she added.

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